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Signs You Might Lack Iron, and 9 Iron-Rich Foods To Add To Your Diet

Signs You Might Lack Iron, and 9 Iron-Rich Foods To Add To Your Diet

Have you been feeling tired lately even though you have been getting a good night’s sleep every night? If so you could be suffering from an iron deficiency without even knowing it, especially if you are a woman. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 10% of women are iron deficient and don’t even know it.

The Importance of Iron to the Body

While most people don’t consider iron as being a nutrient, it is actually an essential mineral to the human body. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. If your iron levels are low, your body will not get the oxygen it needs to function as it should leading to symptoms such as fatigue.

Iron also has other important uses to your body. It is essential in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails. So, if you want to look your best, you need to be sure you get enough iron.

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Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

In the beginning, symptoms for iron deficiency may be so mild that they simply go unnoticed. However, as your body becomes more and more depleted of iron and the anemia increases, the signs and symptoms will increase. Some of the most common iron deficiency symptoms are:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Frequent infections
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
  • An uncomfortable tingling or crawling feeling in your legs (restless legs syndrome)

If you or one of your loved ones develops these symptoms and you are unsure what the underlying cause actually is, see your doctor. Iron deficiency cannot be self diagnosed and self treatment is for the most part limited to what you choose to eat. A doctor will be able to prescribe the best treatment including diet changes and even iron supplements to return your iron levels back to normal.

Five Reasons You May Need Iron Supplements

There are many reasons why a doctor might prescribe iron supplements to you on top of making changes to your diet in order to get your iron levels back to a normal level.

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1. You are anemic

Iron deficiency anemia is the lack of iron in your blood that prevents it from transporting oxygen to all the cells in your body. There are many causes of this condition ranging from cancer to menstruation. While you should also investigate the cause, it is important to get your iron levels back to normal to ensure you are as healthy as you can be.

2. You are pregnant

Women who are pregnant need much more iron than women that aren’t. The recommended daily dose of iron for pregnant women is 27 mg each day. If you cannot get this iron through your diet, doctors will prescribe supplements in order to be sure your iron levels stay at the level needed.

3. You experience regular blood loss

Anyone who loses a lot of blood will need an iron supplement to return their levels back to normal. People who donate blood regularly need the supplements to ensure that their iron levels stay in the normal range.

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4. You have an infant

Babies build stores of excess iron to be used during the first six months of life because their mother’s milk doesn’t contain enough iron. Most pediatricians recommend a formula that contains iron if you bottle-feed. If your baby was born premature, the iron stores more than likely did not have time to develop. If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe an additional iron supplement.

5. You take iron depleting medication

Some medications will quickly deplete your iron levels. In order to prevent this from happening, most physicians will prescribe an iron supplement alongside the medications to ensure that you don’t become anemic as a result of your medication.

Good Sources of Iron

Most people get all the iron they need from the food they eat. By altering your diet, you can increase the amount of iron you get daily without having to take supplements. Some foods that are rich in iron are:

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  • Red meat
  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots
  • Iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas
  • Peas

Before you begin any type of diet, be sure you consult with your doctor or other health care professional to be sure it is safe and the right choice for your health.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common anemias in the United States. In many cases, it can be easily treatable with the help of your diet and, if needed, iron supplements. After a few days on the supplements, you should start to feel normal again. As always, if you don’t feel any different after taking the iron, consult with your doctor and get the help you need to take care of your iron deficiency once and for all.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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